Before I was even alive, I was connected to my home parish. My parents got married there in 1991, I was baptized there two years later, and my sisters were baptized there when they were born. So it holds a very special place in my heart, and it always will.
Over the years, I’ve been in and out of that church community. In my teenage years, I fell out completely, and when I got back into Orthodoxy as a college student, I was away from my home parish. Most recently, I attended liturgy there regularly after I graduated in 2015 and moved back into my parents’ house for about a year.
While I will always cherish the opportunity to go back to my home parish, and I will help it in any way that I can, I moved out this past summer and for a long time I found it difficult to find a parish that I felt connected me to Christ with no distractions.
Because I realized only a short while ago (unfortunately) that if you call yourself a Christian, you should be going to church. It’s an expression of your faith and devotion to Christ, allowing you to worship Him and take part in Holy Communion every week. It’s a blessing that we can do so, and it’s even more of a blessing that we have so many beautiful places of worship scattered throughout the country, especially in a place like New York City. So as an Orthodox Christian I’m attempting to show gratefulness for these things by going to church.
It wasn’t until I moved that I discovered how integral a parish is in building a foundation in your life; how being rooted in a community can help you establish a healthy routine and feel at home where you are. It’s important to have a setting in which you feel comfortable growing towards Christ, and a setting that helps you do that. And this is especially true as we, young adults, move away from our homes and to places where we have to build our own community; a church community is a great way to start.
I’ve recently discovered that a short hop, skip, and jump (or train ride) away from my apartment, resides a parish in which I feel completely at home. I honestly never knew that it was possible to find a church that supports me in this way, especially as a young adult (which, honestly, is a group that many parishes lack). This parish has services in a language that I feel more comfortable with, and when I’m there I always feel accepted as the person that I am, and for where I’m at in life.
What I love especially about this parish is that it isn’t perfect, so in a lot of ways it’s a lot like me. Yet every week it’s pews attract a crowd from all walks of life, from locations both within and outside of New York City, both visitors or permanent residents. This parish is thriving and welcoming and fills my heart with Christ’s love. When I’ve gone to coffee hour, every member of the community has been welcoming and open towards me. I seem to have stumbled into a place that has been extremely inspirational and accepting thus far.
On Sundays, I truly enjoy getting up in the morning when I think about going to this parish. I want to go to church, and that’s something that I honestly haven’t always felt. Even when I have my excuses, there’s something in the back of my mind pushing me to get out of bed and get to church. It’s a place that I love to tell people about, that I love to attend, and most importantly, brings me closer to Christ.
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Maria is the Administrative Coordinator of Y2AM. She is a New York native who isn't completely sold on the city's charm, yet has never left. A proud graduate of Fordham University and occasional runner, she is happiest whenever chocolate, a sale, or a good Gilmore Girls reference is involved.